I 2010 the Norwegian Industrial Property Office (NIPO) received 1813 patent applications, a further decline from 2009. The drop was mainly for international patent applications, due to Norway's membership in the European Patent Organization (EPO) from 1st January 2008. We expect the number of applications to remain stable in the future.
Small og medium-sized enterprises (SME)
The number of applications filed by small and medium-sized companies (with 20 or less employees) has increased from 828 applications in 2009 to 870 in 2010. This category has now risen from 23 % in 2009 to 47 % in 2010 for all patent applications. This is due to the fact that SMEs file primarily national applications, which is now the dominant category.
The figure below shows the distribution of international and national applications, and gives a clear indication of the considerable drop in international applications (PCT applications). National applications filed by residents of other countries also show a decrease compared to 2009.
Variations between technical fields
For several technical fields there is a large difference in the distribution between Norwegian and foreign applicants.
Pure and applied chemistry, including the pharmaceutical industry, has previously been the category with the most foreign applications. This category has now fallen significantly due to Norway's EPO membership. The next largest category of foreign applications (civil engineering and thermodynamics) now predominates, followed by measuring and optics. However the proportional differences between Norwegian and foreign applications is now smaller.
The figure below illustrates patenting activity in different technical fields for Norwegian and foreign applications filed in 2010. As the total for both categories, Norwegian and foreign applications, is 100 %, the columns are not comparable with respect to actual numbers of applications for each technical field.
International Patent Applications
In 2010 the Norwegian Industrial Property Office (NIPO) received 490 PCT applications as Receiving Office, a slight increase compared to earlier years. These applications are not processed by the NIPO as national office. They are sent to an international examining authority, either Nordic Patent Institute, Swedish Patent and Registration Office or European Patent Office.
Number of PCT applications received by NIPO
In 2010 final decisions were made for 5 819 patent applications, a slight increase compared to 2009.
Validated EP patents
Since 1st January 2008 it has been possible to obtain patent protection in Norway by applying for a European patent at the European Patent Office (EPO). The figure below shows the number of European patents granted by the EPO, which have been subsequently validated in Norway. As expected, the number has increased significantly in 2010, and will continue to rise in the years to come.
Number of validated EP patents
Most applications from Norwegian companies are first filings. For all applicants the first written opinion in the first filing is an important basis for further decisions regarding patenting in other countries. The deadline for filing an application in other countries based on the first filing is 12 months from the filing date.
NIPO aims to give a first written opinion within 7 months. In 2010, the proportion of first written opinions within 7 months was 97 %, a further improvement on 2009 (95 %).
The average time to grant for first fillings is less than 3 years. It has however increased slightly for other cases compared to 2009.
Mediation Appeals Board for Employee Inventions
In 2010, NIPO assumed responsibility for administering the Mediation Appeals Board for Employee Inventions. One meeting has taken place in 2010, and several meetings are planned for 2011. NIPO is now also responsible for appointing the Board's secretary and expert members.
New Regulation on Fees
In 2010 NIPO carried out a complete revision of all fees, with regard to both justification and size, and a new Regulation on Fees was drawn up. Some of the terminology has been clarified. Most fees remained unchanged, others had a slight increase. The new Regulation came into effect from 1st January 2011.
European Patent Organization (EPO)
Benoît Battistelli from the French Industrial Property Office (Institut national de la propriété industrielle) was appointed as the new President of the EPO in 2010 following Alison Brimelow.
In 2010, the EPO has concentrated on controlling expenditure due to a reduction in patent applications and the economic crisis. Good financial management has led to a positive result. Trilateral cooperation between EPO, USA og Japan, together with IP5, which also includes China and South Korea has been high on the agenda. NIPO has supported their priorities, and has also taken the initiative for a greater degree of open document access and transparency in the organization's work and decision-making. This will make it easier for member states to keep abreast of developments, and thereby able to contribute in important strategic issues.
NIPO has signed a cooperation agreement with EPO, in the form of a national action plan. Initially, the plan will include a project for electronic filing and processing of PCT applications, and a project leveraging EPO's espacenet. We will launch access to espacenet with a Norwegian user interface and including Norwegian patent publications.
The number of applications filed with EPO has increased again in 2010, as the economic crisis tapers off. We can see the same postive trend in Norway, as patent applications and granted patents are now being upheld for a longer period of time than in the previous year.
Nordic Patent Institute
From 1st January 2010, Nordic Patent Institute started up Business Services, carrying out novelty searches for clients outside Denmark, Iceland and Norway. These commissions are carried out on a commercial basis. Although the majority come from the American market, European markets are also being looked into.
The start phase appears promising; the Institute has received 26 commissions during 2010. The majority of these have been performed by the Danish Patent and Trademark Office, as national patent applications are still a first priority for the Norwegian Industrial Property Office.
In 2010, Nordic Patent Institute was the preferred PCT Authority for Norwegian applicants. This indicates that the Institute delivers services of good quality, and is fully capable of competing with the EPO and the Swedish Patent and Registration Office.